I’m a native New Yorker and a former foster care youth who took all the lemons tossed my way and made a tall ice-cold glass of lemonade. By the age of 30 I was able to obtain both my Bachelors and Masters degrees with no student loans, purchase my first rental property and triple my salary within my first 6 years of full-time employment.
Around here, we call that working smarter.
As someone who grew up in underserved neighborhoods across New York City, these were huge accomplishments within themselves and having been able to achieve so much at such a young age felt great at first, but I knew I could be doing so much more to uplift those around me as I continued to grow in my own life and career.
I’ve experienced firsthand how access to information, tools and resources can make a HUGE difference in outcomes people experience as they navigate through life. Back when I began the process of planning for college, it felt EXTREMELY overwhelming at times.
At the time, I was living in the South Bronx in a low-income housing complex and around me, I didn’t have many examples of people who had attended or graduated from college. However, I believed that my way out of poverty was through education and self advocacy and I was determined to build the life I felt I deserved.
I decided as a young teen that I would do whatever was in my power to create a better life for myself.
For me that meant regularly taking trips down to my foster care agency to ask about potential funds for school. That also meant researching organizations and government services online that would assist with college expenses and applying for state programs to help make college more affordable. Being forced to “figure it out,” I learned how to identify what I needed and go after what I wanted.
What I realized during this process was that I was truly in charge of my life. I didn’t have to let the hand that I was played in life dictate how far I would or could go. I realized that it was okay to dream big. However, more importantly was the realization that those big dreams had to have some solid actions behind them to actually come true.
Once in college, I continued to make use of every opportunity presented to me to. This resulted in me being able to become one of the only Black interns working at the U.S. Department of State during the summer of my junior year in college and being able to study abroad in Madrid, Spain during my senior year. With these experiences, I was able to expand not only my network, but my perspective on the world around me.
I have not looked back since. And you should join me.
My desire to live a more purposeful and prosperous life has enabled me to become my own best advocate and has totally flipped the script in the way that I approach my own life. Through sharing my story and my experiences navigating both my life and my career, I aim to challenge others to think more strategically about the way they approach their lives and empower them to take charge of their futures to create the lives they deserve.
Even in the face of adversity, we can carve out our own paths, break generational curses and lead a life we can be proud of.